Welcome to the second ever Merc Shots. I will apologize for the time period between the previous Merc Shots and this one. I have been quite busy so did not get the chance to finish editing and shorting up this article.
With the advent of Star Wars: The Old Republic (Also known as SWTOR) I felt it was a good time to make a brief commentary/guide on something I have been involved with for too many years; leading a guild. This article will be separated based on issues of focus I have found to be important and will mainly focus on a guild in an MMORPG. Some of the ideas may apply to your First/Third Person Shooter clans, however most of it will not.
The Guild Start-up Phase:
Whether you are a group of real life friends or people randomly thrown together, at some point you would like to “fly the same flag” and start a guild. The most important first choice your group will make is “who should be our leader?”. Often this will be the person who is the most popular among their friends, but hopefully it was the person they see as the most non-biased and approachable.
When your guild first starts out it will be small. Your role as Guild Leader will be to make most of the large decisions shaping your guild as it grows. This role will drastically change as you begin to assign real officers and recruitment yields success.
As your numbers grow, you must decide how your guild will run. I have found 3 archetypes guilds tend to fall into:
1.) Alliance of Cliques Model: Your guild is made up of subgroups that just want to raid. These are usually gaming groups who have been together for years and often know each other offline. The Alliance of Cliques guild usually doesn’t survive very long due to drama or the appearance of favortism.
2.) Family Model: You and your officers act more with a guiding hand and less of a forced leadership. You spend more time explaining and educating guild members hoping they understand and improve with their class. This model is usually has a slower start up, but can pay big dividends with member loyalty. Your officers need to have patience and a working knowledge of game mechanics to help the players who may not have time in understanding their class to the same level of detail.
3.) Military Model: You are the final word and your officers act like lieutenants reporting progress of guild members or the jobs they are given. This model will usually start fast and furious, however if results aren’t consistent you will find loyalty is not a premium of the Military model. Unlike the real military, if a player is tired of being forced into a play style or role they can simple quit; often taking a few people with them. Then you have to be able to switch into crisis management and hope for progress soon. As the saying goes “Winning fixes everything”.
Choosing officers is probably your most important and stressful job when your guild reaches a reasonable size. They will be the ones making the day to day decisions and your role as Guild Leader will be more of a “tie breaking” vote or to be a public relations figurehead for your guild members. When selecting your officers there are two important rules I would like to share: 1.) Do not make all or your officers your real life friends and 2.) Let your officers know they do not get loot priority.
There are additional guidelines, but these are the big 2. First, if all of your officers are your real life buddies, you will rarely get a true dissenting opinion. Often they will either just agree with you or be negative because it’s in their nature. Also, without an outside officer, you are one big trip to hang out away from there being no leadership available.
The second is something I have seen happen time and time again. Because someone in an officer they will or feel they should get a loot priority. This is a terrible idea. Officers should never be given an extra benefit because they are officers. This will typically lead to a split between some of your reliable non-officers and your leadership. I will focus more on loot or gear later.
The last thing about officers is to make sure they all have some kind of small job to the guild. Whether it’s leading raids, organizing the guild bank or helping fellow members with gears or ability questions. If you have an officer who is stagnant you probably should demote them. This could be a sign of them being burnt out on the game or just wanting to have the officer title for a sense of entitlement.
Congratulations! You have enough people who are geared and primed for your guilds first big raid. The downside is that this is typically when you start to see drama among your ranks. People will freak out if they aren’t brought or if they didn’t get a piece of loot or pat on the back. This will be a stressful transition and here some guidelines I suggest:
- Not everyone wants to raid: Just because they have no interest in raiding doesn’t mean they are useless. Typically you will find people are more into crafting or grinding money and are willing to help the guild in other ways. Do not immediately dismiss these players.
- The start time is the start time: Even if a player who is better isn’t there on time, they should sit for someone else (if that option is there). However, if there is no progress being made you can ask the lesser skilled player to sit, however be sure to thank them for being on time and give them some more time on earlier bosses to gear them up. This will stop the attitude of “Do we have enough people on? No? Well text me if we do”. If a player gets on and only see’s 5 or 6 people on, they do not immediately know about the people waiting in ventrilo or for a text to log in. This will cause a morale drop and they will log off.
- You should never be the lone raid leader: Be sure to have another officer in charge of learning fights and leading the overall raid. You should be focused on seeing performance/attendance so that you can help your officers manage your player base.
- Everyone has an off night: Just because DPS 1 doesn’t do any amazing numbers, doesn’t mean they should never be brought to a raid again. Take the time to work with them or have an officer familiar with their class send over a message. Sometimes it’s a mental block or a rotation issue that is easily fixed. If they are not willing to work on their performance, then you will have to move them out of the normal rotation.
Note: It’s easier to fix a skill/gear issue than an attitude one.
The next line I type will probably cause a large amount of disagreement among other guild leaders. As the leader of your guild, you should never get loot because you are the guild leader. If you are doing a good job you will find most of your guild members will want you to have gear/loot. The flip side is that if you take even one piece of gear over a member without some system in place, i.e. a roll off or you were the only person who can use it and hasn’t gotten loot/gear, this immediately will give the impression the guild was made just to get you gear.
I realize how silly that sounds, but I can tell you I typically pass on gear, however after taking my first piece of gear ever I have been accused of hoarding loot all for myself. The truth of the matter didn’t matter because the perception was no one else had a chance to get that piece of loot.
Your officers should also understand the rule of gear/loot defaulting to them should apply to them as well. It should be part of one or two officers job to know what gear their members have and who really would get the most use out of an upgrade; considering themselves last.
End of the Day:
So you are into raiding fairly steadily and your guild seems to be stable. That’s excellent! At this point your role should almost be entirely P.R. with guild members and handling the odd dispute or drama issues. Your officers should be fairly reliable and if they are not you should already have a replacement in mind.
Now for the hardest part, not getting burnt out. The set up is sometimes so difficult and time consuming you will find yourself wanting to just log off for a week to drink heavily. If you are feeling burnt out, make sure your guild knows what’s going on. If you’ve done your job the guild should be running itself so you can get some well earned down time. If you do not intend on coming back or if your hiatus is going to be very long, make sure you assign a new Guild Leader who understands the inner workings of your people.
Hope all of these helps you build a more productive online guild. Good Luck Have Fun.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Merc has been an avid gamer for many years. Starting with Wolfenstein 3D, Xwing vs Tie Fighter and even some classic MUDs like Terris, he has continued his life long hobby by playing a large variety of game types.
He has had a wide range of experience in the gaming community; having hosted and competed in prequalifiers for the World Cyber Games and the CPL/CAL tournaments.
Merc now writes reviews for currently out video games as well as commentary on the community as a whole.